Knitting begins with the spark of an idea. I see a fine-looking skein of yarn – soft, fresh smelling, nubby and squishy, silent except for the crinkly paper band – and am enticed to create something practical or beautiful or both.
I explore my yarn stash. Every knitter has one: secret heaps of multicoloured skeins yearning to be wound into tidy yarn cakes or efficient balls, longing to be knit into useful warm socks, sturdy comforting sweaters, striped or cabled scarves, gorgeous expansive shawls, practical protective hats or cozy sensuous mittens.
I choose mittens. Where can I find a pattern - in a magazine, seductive with glossy photos, or in a book admonishing advice, “knit a swatch first”, or online at my favourite yarn shop’s website? What size needles do I need? What do I already have? Will they work?
I begin, knit, make mistakes, unravel, and knit again. Adjust my pattern instructions, fiddle with my knitting, measure, fine-tune again and knit. Click, click, click of needles.
A bit like life, isn’t it? All of this organizing, venturing, creating, retreating and progressing with detours and adjustments.
Finally I’m finished. The mittens are lovely, soft, thick, warm. I like them so well that I wear them in the house for a while, enjoying the pleasantly subtle waxy feel of the thick fuzzy strands. The woolly earthy fragrance reminds me that these homemade mittens embody relationship between my handiwork and nature’s offerings from alpaca or sheep, goats or angora rabbits.
These mittens are charming and imperfect, not quite the way I had imagined, but delightful, comforting and useful just the same.
Learning from my mistakes, I note improvements for the next pair of mittens, eyeing the tantalizing textures and beckoning hues of the yarn stash … ideas sparking!